The U.S. Border At Night, Part 5
Daylight cameras are what you might be using today to record
your home movies. They offer reasonable resolution and can see
from early dawn to just after dusk. Most border cameras of this
type are installed in “Pan / Tilt” mounts which allow
a camera operator some many miles away to move the point of aim
of the camera in azimuth and elevation.
Most of these “Pan / Tilt” cameras also offer a
“Zoom” capability and can magnify the image to see
a human face even five miles away.
The cameras in use today along the border are standard NTSC resolution
– just what you have at home. There are newer camera technologies
available today that offer even 16 times NTSC resolution for only
a little additional investment.
By the way, NTSC is the acronym for a format named for the National
Television Systems Committee. While they talk about 525 lines
of image on the screen, just as with gas mileage, the reality
is far less, -- about 485 lines. This TV format was created in
1941 and was a compromise to low quality even back then.
Daylight cameras cannot see through fog or rain or snow or a
sand storm or even haze. They cannot see any better than you can
with your own eyes. This can be very bad if there is fog or rain
or snow or a sand storm or haze and a few dozen gang members or
drug smugglers are coming across the border and your life depends
on seeing them before they see you.
These daylight cameras can “see” objects through
the obscurant if enough light gets through that obscurant. For
example, they – just as you – can see brake lights
of a distant car right through fog.
Low Light Level Cameras
Low light level cameras are similar to Daylight cameras except
that they can provide an acceptable image with just moonlight.
These low light level cameras are usually only NTSC resolution.
These cameras cannot see through fog or rain or snow or a sand
storm or even haze. They cannot see any better than you can with
your own eyes. They may be "low light level" but if
you sit in a dark place for a few minutes you can see better than
they can. Your eyes become "accustomed" to the dark.
So again, this can be very bad if there is fog or rain or snow
or a sand storm or haze and gang members or drug smugglers are
coming across the border and your job is to see them.
And just with the other cameras, these cameras can “see”
objects through the obscurant if enough gets through the obscurant.
For example, they – just as you – can see brake lights
of a distant car right through the fog.
Light energy can be amplified. Today this is done with odd devices
called "micro-channel plates" and more. Some of these
devices are made of hundreds of thousands of hollow tubes and
the "pixel" at the front of the tube is sped up on its
way along that tiny tube and that energy hits another phosphor
at the other end -- that you are looking at -- and makes it blink.
Some of these devices have the bundle of tiny tubes twist so that
the image is right side up when you see it. Modern devices of
this type can amplify light fifty thousand times. Because making
that bundle of tiny tubes is so expensive, these devices don't
have enough tubes / resolution to see people farther away than
about 150 yards.
If you have ever wondered why images from these things are always
green, it is because the human eye can see more gradations of
the color green than any other color.
These devices still need light to operate. The light can be from
stars, or -- at sea -- even from the minute levels of light given
off by dynoflagelates.
Another incredibly interesting capability associated with the
tiny amplifier tube itself is the ability to turn it on and off
in a millionth of a second. This can be important when you combine
it with other technologies.
You might contact your congressman and ask him
to start protecting you and your family from the border threat
by funding the United States Border Patrol.